Skip to main content

Falcons first-rounder Bijan Robinson thinks how RBs are 'being valued now' is headed in right direction

Not one but two running backs were taken amid the 2023 NFL Draft's first 12 picks in a surprising turn of events on Thursday.

No. 8 overall pick and new Atlanta Falcons back Bijan Robinson hopes it kick-starts a trend for drafts to come.

"I know the running back position in the top 10 is really, really rare," Robinson said Friday, via ESPN. "But I mean, it's pretty cool to be a guy that can share that and to show the younger kids in the college football, the younger running backs, that it's possible -- you just got to do everything the right way and just be as effective as you can for their program."

Robinson was regarded as one of the top talents in the draft class, but the question of where he would ultimately land was long the subject of speculation, due to the positional value of running backs in 2023. What few saw coming was the Detroit Lions taking Alabama's Jahmyr Gibbs at No. 12 overall (with a pick they acquired via trade from the Arizona Cardinals).

Even Gibbs was stunned to be selected so early in the process.

"I didn't know I would get picked as high as I did," he said. "Running backs don't get picked as high in this new age and new era of the NFL draft. But it was pretty shocking to me."

It was shocking for many. Not because of Gibbs' talents, but due to the latest draft trends.

Robinson's No. 8 selection was the highest for a back since Saquon Barkley by the New York Giants in 2018 at No. 2 overall, and Thursday marked the first time two tailbacks were selected in the top 15 of the draft since 2017 (Leonard Fournette, Jacksonville Jaguars, No. 4; Christian McCaffrey, Carolina Panthers, No. 8).

Gibbs' and Robinson's selections also come a year after there were zero running backs taken in the first round.

With passing having become priority No. 1, No. 2 and often No. 3 in the modern NFL, backs have taken a backseat -- something evident in this offseason's free agency period, during which Miles Sanders' $6.35 million-per-year deal was the most lucrative.

So, it remains to be seen if Robinson and Gibbs are starting a trend or are just such phenomenally talented three-down backs that the Falcons and Lions valued them so highly.

Robinson wants to set an example and make strides that provide youngsters with an example to follow. He's also confident that he and Gibbs can start a trend of runners being viewed in a better and more highly evaluated hue.

"Our games are kind of similar, and you can line us up anywhere on the field and be just a mismatch as we are at the running back position," Robinson said. "I see that's where the running back position is being valued now. That's where I think it's going to be headed."

For 2023 it is anyway, as Robinson and Gibbs shook up the first round and are off and running.

Related Content